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How to get a one-time entertainment license

How to get a one-time entertainment license

You need a license to host a one-time event like a carnival or festival. There are two ways to get a license.

Last updated: 6/28/16
Step
1

Before you get started in person

You must get a license for certain events. You'll need to apply for a license if:

  • You have a Common Victualler or Alcohol license and are hosting a public show.
  • You're hosting a public show and you plan to charge an admission fee.
  • You're hosting a free public show, but patrons need to pay for certain activities with coins, like an arcade.

Public shows are concerts, dance exhibitions, cabarets, and other events that include:

  • dancing, whether by performers or patrons
  • recorded or live music
  • an amplification system
  • a theatrical play or a film screening
  • a floor show or light show, or
  • any other audio or visual show.

You can get more detailed information about regulations from this City booklet.

Before you apply, you also need to make sure to pay any outstanding bills with the City.

You need to give us your application at least 10 days before the event, but we prefer two weeks notice.

Step
2

Get your application together

Print out and complete the one-time entertainment license application. If you are holding a carnival, you also need to print out and complete the one-time carnival license application.

You need to get your application signed by the Boston police captain from the district where you’re holding the event

We also need a copy of your Inspection Certificate and Place of Assembly Permit.

We may also ask you for extra documents, including:

  • a Certificate of Liability Insurance
  • a license to Operate Amusement Devices
  • a fire permit
  • a copy of your lease, and
  • any other information we need.

To get an idea of what it costs to apply, you can view a list of common fees. We take certified checks, money orders, or credit or debit cards.

We can waive your the application fee if your event is tax-exempt. You'll need to fill out this form and give us proof.

Step
3

Give us your application

Bring your completed application, documents, and payment to:

Consumer Affairs and Licensing
1 City Hall Square, Room 817
Boston, MA 02201
United States
Office hours
Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Step
1

Before you get started by mail

You must get a license for certain events. You'll need to apply for a license if:

  • You have a Common Victualler or Alcohol license and are hosting a public show.
  • You're hosting a public show and you plan to charge an admission fee.
  • You're hosting a free public show, but patrons need to pay for certain activities with coins, like an arcade.

Public shows are concerts, dance exhibitions, cabarets, and other events that include:

  • dancing, whether by performers or patrons
  • recorded or live music
  • an amplification system
  • a theatrical play or a film screening
  • a floor show or light show, or
  • any other audio or visual show.

You can get more detailed information about regulations from this City booklet.

Before you apply, you also need to make sure to pay any outstanding bills with the City.

You need to give us your application at least 10 days before the event, but we prefer two weeks notice.

Step
2

Get your application together

Print out and complete the one-time entertainment license application. If you are holding a carnival, you also need to print out and complete the one-time carnival license application.

You need to get your application signed by the Boston police captain from the district where you’re holding the event

We also need a copy of your Inspection Certificate and Place of Assembly Permit.

We may also ask you for extra documents, including:

  • a Certificate of Liability Insurance
  • a license to Operate Amusement Devices
  • a fire permit
  • a copy of your lease, and
  • any other information we need.

To get an idea of what it costs to apply, you can view a list of common fees. You can only make your payment by mail with a certified check, business check, or a money order.

We can waive your the application fee if your event is tax-exempt. You'll need to fill out this form and give us proof.

Step
3

Mail us your application

Mail your completed application, documents, and payment to:

Consumer Affairs and Licensing
1 City Hall Square, Room 817
Boston, MA 02201
United States
Contact:
Consumer Affairs and Licensing
1 City Hall Square
Room 817
Boston, MA 02201-2039
United States
Need to Cancel Your Event?

If you need to cancel your event, let us know before the date of the event by emailing us at MOCAL@boston.gov.

We will still charge you a fee if you don’t let us know in time.